Thursday, March 13, 2014

Flea Mythbusting!

With spring hopefully around the corner ( if this winter ever ends) the warmth brings out all those goody little creatures like worms and fleas and when there is mosquitos there is a chance of heartworm. It is a good idea if you are concerned to have a stool sample checked on your pets especially in the spring. Good preventative medicine goes a long way! Here  at AVH we require a fresh (within 24 hours) stool sample that is sent out to an outside lab where an actual parasitologist will read the sample and report back to us within 1 day. We are also starting to heartworm test as of April 1st. Be sure to read our latest newsletter or call our office to see if your dog needs a blood test done prior to the medication.

Before we get to busting some flea myths lets talk flea facts first. Did you know....

There are more than 2000 species of fleas, 95% of the flea population live in the environment and only 5% live on animals.

Dog parks and other open spaces are not likely sources of fleas, since these pets do not spend much time resting there. Also open spaces are not conducive to the fleas life stages. However infected pets that do travel to parks and defecate will expose other dogs to intestinal parasites. Keep that in mind.

Inside the home flea populations will be concentrated where the animal spend most of its time sleeping or resting.

Squirrels and other rodents so not carry the same species of fleas that infest cats and dogs. Wild animals such as opossums and raccoons can introduce fleas into the yard if they are nesting in areas your pet has access to.

Now onto busting some flea myths...

Putting an ultrasonic collar on my pet will inhibit flea and tick infestations.
Good Lord, Busted! These type of collars have NO effect on fleas and ticks. In some areas these type of collars have been deemed fraudulent.

Cut an orange in half and rub it on your pets back and stomach.
Seriously? Busted! The peel of citrus fruits contains a chemical called linalool. It has been used as insect repellent over the years, but in order for it to be effective on fleas it would need to be extracted and concentrated. It is not practical to use the juice from the orange.

Spray the yard with Ivory soap and water.
Huh? Busted! This is not an effective treatment, since the adult flea is only on the pet and does not live out in the yard.

Keep cats indoors.
Busted. Any pet that lives in doors theoretically will have a lower exposure to parasites, however fleas thrive on indoor environments and it only takes one male and one female to be introduced.

Feed pets raw garlic, garlic powder or garlic pills.
Please do not do this! Busted. There is no clinical evidence that this works plus it is potentially hazardous to pets especially cats! Garlic is in the allium family which includes onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. In some animals it can cause severe anemia, some can have lesser reactions such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Feed 1 mg of brewers yeast for every 5 pounds of weight, by mixing it in with food.
Busted! Brewers yeast is not toxic, but lacks effectiveness against fleas. This is a folklore, through research studies have proven that it is not effective against parasites.

The best way to prevent or control fleas is speak with your veterinary team . There are many products that are purchased over the counter from pet stores that are not 100% effective or can be potentially fatal for cats. Frequent vacuuming, washing bedding will help with controlling the environment. Once a flea finds its host it will not leave unless it is killed, washed off, or displaced by scratching, chewing, or grooming. Hope you have a flea free 2014!